Monday, May 3, 2010

My Guy is Good. Yours is Evil Incarnate.

I know balance is boring. Nobody likes listening to a discussion in which both parties find common ground. We're trained throughout life to like drama. We want villains and heroes. We want good vs. evil. We want our bad guys and good guys polarized so we can clearly see who to root for. Television, movies, and books all give us the drama we so enjoy. But those are entertainment vehicles and more often than not meant as escape from the realities of life.

However, our news media helps bring this theme of good vs. evil, tragedy vs. triumph into our "real" lives. They report on the dramatic, the traumatic, the sensational. Nobody wants to hear the good things (or even the moderately questionable things) that people do on a daily basis. That isn't news. Reporters want to find the dirt and the scandal. They want to expose corruption and be heralded as righteous truth bearers. They report danger and catastrophe and the conflict that is happening all over the world. With grim expressions and clicks of the tongue and shaking heads they are "sadly" burdened with the duty of sharing horrible information with the masses. It's interesting that even with all their "we're sorry to tell you this" posturing, they all seem to jump at the chance to be the first to tell us. They claw and scratch at each other for the opportunity to be the first ones to tell us how reluctant they are to be the bearers of bad news.

So, I guess it's natural for us to accept the drama-mongering into other areas of our lives. Politics for instance, is a popular place for this game to be played. My candidate is a saint whose sole intention is to better the world around him. If he is criticized it is evidence that he is doing something brave and noble because brave and noble people always have detractors. Evil always hates good and tries to tear it down. My guy is good. His goals are lofty. His critics simply don't understand him or hate him because he's good.

Your guy is either the devil incarnate or he is so stupid that he is simply a dupe and puppet for Satan himself. Everything your guy does is bad. His expression in a photo, even without accompanying text or caption, is obvious proof of his evil disposition. Everything that comes from his mouth is either a lie or is meant to deceive by covering his actual nefarious motives. Even the mention of his name causes people to shudder. I don't need to stop and consider what he is saying or doing. I know, just because you said his name, that anything associated with him and his kind is worthless. No, not worthless, but actually designed to bring down civilization as we know it and end all that is moral and decent in the universe. That is your guy's goal. That is his agenda. How do I know? Because he's on the opposite side from my guy, that's how!

I guess I understand the use of hyperbole when making a case, but I don't understand people who completely vilify those on the other side of the fence from them. This irresponsible approach to candidate and party support is far too common. I know friends and acquaintances on both sides who froth at the mouth at the mention of the other side's views or leaders. Yes, I know that there are many who take a balanced view. There are many who say things like, "I don't really like most of what you stand for, but I can see your goal even if I'd get there a different way." But, we don't often hear from these people. Nobody wants to report on their views. It's boring.

Do we really think that our guy is the only one who has the good of the country in mind? Do we really think that those with ideas that differ from ours are actually out to sabotage our society? Or, if he's not actively out to undermine all that is good, do we really think the other guy is just so stupid that he can't see how he is being manipulated by the evil people around him?

Polarization is fun. It's entertaining. It's the bread and butter for soap operas. But, we laugh at those and ridicule them. Why, then, do we bring their ideals into our realities? Why do we gobble up the empty "news" calories of modern day junk food journalists without question? Are WE really that naive?

Sorry for being boring, but I'd like to hear from both sides in a rational conversation and then decide what I think from that. Is that even possible?

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